The Noongar ( // , also spelt Noongah, Nyungar, Nyoongar, Nyoongah, Nyungah, Nyugah, Yunga ) are Aboriginal Australian peoples who live in the south-west corner of Western Australia, from Geraldton on the west coast to Esperance on the south coast. Noongar country is the land occupied by 14 different groups: Amangu, Ballardong, Yued, Kaneang, Koreng, Mineng, Njakinjaki, Njunga, Pibelmen, Pindjarup, Wardandi, Whadjuk, Wiilman and Wudjari .
The members of the collective Noongar cultural block descend from peoples who spoke several languages and dialects that were often mutually intelligible. What is now classed as the Noongar language is a member of the large Pama-Nyungan language family. Contemporary Noongar speak Australian Aboriginal English (a dialect of the English language) laced with Noongar words and occasionally inflected by its grammar. Most contemporary Noongar trace their ancestry to one or more than one of these groups. The 2001 census figures showed that 21,000 people identified themselves as indigenous in the south-west of Western Australia.
The endonym of the Noongar comes from a word originally meaning "man" or "person".
At the time of European settlement it is believed that the peoples of what became the Noongar community spoke thirteen dialects, of which five still have speakers with some living knowledge of their respective versions of the language.No speakers use it over the complete range of everyday speaking situations, and the full resources of the language are available only to a few individuals.
The Noongar peoples have six seasons whose time frame is defined by specific observable changes to the environment, with a dry period varying from as few as three to as many as eleven months.Tribes are spread over three different geological systems: the coastal plains, the plateau, and the plateau margins; all areas are characterized by relatively infertile soil. The north is characterized by casuarina, acacia and melaleuca thickets, the south by mulga scrubland but it also supported dense forest stands. Several rivers run to the coast and with lakes and wetlands provided the Noongar people with their distinctive food and vegetation resources.
Generally, Noongar made a living by hunting and trapping a variety of game, including kangaroos, possums and wallabies; for people close to the coastal zone or riverine systems, spear-fishing or culling fish in traps was customary. An extensive range of edible wild plants were also available, including yams and wattle seeds. Nuts of the zamia palm, eaten during the Djeran season (April–May) [ citation needed ] As early as 10,000 BP local people utilised quartz, replacing chert flint for spear and knife edges when the chert deposits were submerged by sea level rise during the Flandrian transgression.[ citation needed ]required extensive treatment to remove its toxicity, and for women it may have had a contraceptive effect.
Before the arrival of Europeans, the Noongar population has been variously estimated at between 6,000 and some tens of thousands.[ citation needed ] Colonisation by the British brought both violence and new diseases, taking a heavy toll on the population. The Noongar, like many other Aboriginal peoples, saw the arrival of Europeans as the returning of deceased people, often imagining them as relatives who deserved accommodation. As they approached from the west, the newcomers were called djaanga (or djanak), meaning "white spirits".
Initially relations were generally cordial. Matthew Flinders recognized the success of his three-week sojourn as due in good part to Noongar diplomacy, and Noongar rituals celebrated their reception of the newcomers in a ceremonial form. [ citation needed ] The only area that successfully resisted the usurpation of native land for any time was the area around the Murray River, which effectively blocked expansion of the tiny settlement at Mandurah for almost half a decade.When settlement became more firmly established, however, misunderstandings over the obligations of reciprocity – some of the most productive land was being taken especially on the Upper Swan – led to sporadic clashes. An example of such misunderstandings was the Noongar land-management practice of setting fires in early summer, mistakenly seen as an act of hostility by the settlers. Conversely, the Noongar saw the settlers' livestock as fair game to replace the dwindling stocks of native animals shot indiscriminately by settlers.
In June 1832 a Whadjuk leader, 22 miles (35 km) in 10 hours tracking his spoors, and saved him, at the point of death.Yagan, formerly of good standing among the settler authorities and known in the colony for his handsome bearing, "tall, slender, well-fashioned..of pleasing countenance", was, together with his father Midgegooroo and brother Monday, declared an outlaw after undertaking a series of food raids and revenge attacks in retaliation for some 16 Whadjuk who had been killed since the establishment of the settlement. Caught and imprisoned, he escaped and was let alone, as though informally reprieved as a native version of William Wallace. His father was caught, and killed without trial by a military firing squad. Yagan himself, with a bounty on his head, was ambushed soon afterwards by an 18-year-old settler youth, after he had stopped two settlers and asked for flour. His corpse was decapitated and the skull sent to England for display in fairgrounds. Yagan is now considered a Noongar hero, by many to have been one of the first indigenous resistance fighters. Matters escalated with conflicts between the settlement of Thomas Peel and the Pindjarup people, resulting in the Pinjarra massacre. Similarly struggles with Balardong people in the Avon Valley continued until violently suppressed by Lieutenant Henry William St Pierre Bunbury. Notwithstanding this violence, extraordinary acts of goodwill existed. In the same year, 1834, the Swan River Noongar couple, Migo and Molly Dobbin, alerted to the fact a European child had gone missing, covered
From August 1838 ten Aboriginal prisoners were sent to Rottnest Island (known as Wadjemup to the Noongar, possibly meaning "place across the water"). After a short period when both settlers and prisoners occupied the island, the Colonial Secretary announced in June 1839 that the island would become a penal establishment for Aboriginal people and was officially designated as such in 1841. From that time down to 1903 when the indigenous section was closed, Rottnest Island was used as a prison to transfer Aboriginal prisoners "overseas". To "pacify" the Aboriginal population, men were rounded up and chained for offences ranging from spearing livestock, burning the bush or digging vegetables on what had been their own land. It quickly became a "place of torment, deprivation and death", and it has been estimated that there may be as many as 369 Aboriginal graves on the island, of which five were for prisoners who had been hanged. Except for a short period between 1849 and 1855, during which the prison was closed, some 3,700 Aboriginal men and boys, many of them Noongars, but also many others from all parts of the state, were imprisoned.
A significant development for the Noongar people in the Western Australian Colony was the arrival of Rosendo Salvado in 1846. Highly cultured, very caring, practical and down to earth, Salvado dedicated his life to promoting the humane treatment of the Australian Aboriginals at the mission he created at New Norcia, the territory of the Yued. The Njunga found refuge under his roof, and he defended many natives up on charges of theft, arguing from Church doctrine that theft was not criminal if dictated by dire necessity. While intent on converting, he encouraged the Noongar to maintain their traditional culture.
From 1890 to 1958, the lives and lifestyles of Noongar people were subject to the Native Welfare Act. By 1915 15% of Perth's Noongar had been thrust north and interned at the Moore River Native Settlement.Carrolup (later known as Marribank) became the home of up to one-third of the population. It is estimated that 10 to 25% of Noongar children were forcibly "adopted" during these years, in part of what has become known as the Stolen Generations.
Noongar people live in many country towns throughout the south-west as well as in the major population centres of Perth, Mandurah, Bunbury, Geraldton, Albany and Esperance. Many country Noongar people have developed long-standing relationships with wadjila (white fella[man])[ citation needed ] farmers and continue to hunt kangaroo and gather bush tucker (food) as well as to teach their children stories about the land. In a few areas in the south-west, visitors can go on bushtucker walks, trying foods such as kangaroo, emu, quandong jam or relish, bush tomatoes, witchetty grub pâté and bush honey.
The buka is a traditional cloak of the Noongar people made of kangaroo skin.
In Perth, the Noongar believe that the Darling Scarp is said to represent the body of a Wagyl, a snakelike being from the Dreamtime that meandered over the land creating rivers, waterways and lakes. It is thought that the Wagyl created the Swan River. The Wagyl has been associated with Wonambi naracoutensis, part of the extinct megafauna of Australia that disappeared between 15 and 50,000 years ago.
Also in Perth, Mount Eliza was an important site for the Noongar. It was a hunting site where kangaroos were herded and driven over the edge to provide meat for gathering clans. In this context, the "clan" is a local descent group – larger than a family but based on family links through a common ancestry. At the base of Mount Eliza is a sacred site where the Wagyl is said to have rested during its journeys. This site is also the location of the former Swan Brewery which has been a source of contention between local Noongar groups (who would like to see the land, which was reclaimed from the river in the late 19th century, "restored" to them) and the title-holders who wished to develop the site. A Noongar protest camp existed here for several years in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Noongar culture is particularly strong with the written word. The plays of Jack Davis are on the school syllabus in several Australian states. Davis' first full-length play Kullark, a documentary on the history of Aboriginals in WA, was first produced in 1979. Other plays include: No Sugar, The Dreamers, Barungin: Smell the Wind, In Our Town and for younger audiences, Honey Spot and Moorli and the Leprechaun. Kim Scott won the 2000 Miles Franklin Award for his novel Benang and the 2011 award for That Deadman Dance.
Yirra Yaakindescribes itself as the response to the Aboriginal Community's need for positive self-enhancement through artistic expression. It is a theatre company which strives for community development and which also has a drive to create "exciting, authentic and culturally appropriate indigenous theatre".
The Barnett government of Western Australia announced in November 2014 that, due to changes in funding arrangements with the Abbott Federal government, it was closing 150 of 276 Aboriginal communities in remote locations. As a result, Noongars in solidarity with other Aboriginal groups established a refugee camp on Heirisson Island. Despite police action to dismantle the camp twice in 2015, the camp continued until April 2016.
Despite such state government actions many local governments in the south-west have developed "compacts" or "commitments" with their local Noongar communities to ensure that sites of significance are protected and that the culture is respected. At the same time, the Western Australian Barnett government, also from November 2014, had been forcing the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee to deregister 300 Aboriginal sacred sites in Western Australia. [ citation needed ]Although falling most heavily upon Pilbara and Kimberley sites this government policy also was having an impact upon Noongar lands according to Ira Hayward-Jackson, Chairman of the Rottnest Island Deaths Group. The changes also removed rights of notification and appeal for traditional owners seeking to protect their heritage. A legal ruling on 1 April 2015 overturned the government's actions on some of the sites deregistered which were found to be truly sacred.
Elders are increasingly asked on formal occasions to provide a "welcome to country", and the first steps of teaching the Noongar language in the general curriculum have been made.
In recent years there has been considerable interest in Noongar visual arts. In 2006, Noongar culture was showcased as part of the Perth International Arts Festival. A highlight of the Festival was the unveiling of the monumental "Ngallak Koort Boodja – Our Heart Land Canvas". The 8-metre (26 ft) canvas was commissioned for the festival by representatives of the united elders and families from across the Noongar nation. It was painted by leading Noongar artists Shane Pickett, Tjyllyungoo, Yvonne Kickett, Alice Warrell and Sharyn Egan.
The Noongar people occupied and maintained the Mediterranean climate lands of the south-west ecoregion of Western Australia, and made sustainable use of seven biogeographic regions of their territory, namely;
These seven regions have been acknowledged as a biodiversity hot-spot,having a generally greater number of endemic species than most other regions in Australia. The ecological damage done to this region through clearing, introduced species, by feral animals and non-endemic plants is also severe, and has resulted in a high proportion of plants and animals being included in the categories of rare, threatened and endangered species. In modern times many Aboriginal men were employed intermittently as rabbiters, and rabbit became an important part of Noongar diet in the early 20th century. The Noongar territory also happens to conform closely with the south-west Indian Ocean Drainage Region, and the use of these water resources played a very important seasonal part in their culture.
The Noongar thus have a close connection with the earth and, as a consequence, they divided the year into six distinct seasons that corresponded with moving to different habitats and feeding patterns based on seasonal foods.They were:
This section needs to be updated.July 2017)(
On 19 September 2006 the Federal Court of Australia brought down a judgment which recognised native title in an area over the city of Perth and its surrounds, known as Bennell v State of Western Australia  FCA 1243. 193,956 km2 (74,887 sq mi) of the south-west of Western Australia, remains outstanding, and will hinge on the outcome of this appeal process. In the interim, the Noongar people together will continue to be involved in native title negotiations with the Government of Western Australia, and are represented by the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council.An appeal was subsequently lodged and was heard in April 2007. The remainder of the larger "Single Noongar Claim" area, covering
Justice Wilcox's judgment is noteworthy for several reasons. It highlights Perth's wealth of post-European settlement writings which provide an insight into Aboriginal life, including laws and customs, around the time of settlement in 1829 and also into the beginning of the last century. These documents enabled Justice Wilcox to find that laws and customs governing land throughout the whole Single Noongar Claim (taking in Perth, and many other towns in the greater South West) were those of a single community. The claimants shared a language and had extensive interaction with others in the claim area.
Importantly, Justice Wilcox found the Noongar community constituted a united society which had continued to exist despite the disruption resulting from mixed marriage and people being forced off their land and dispersed to other areas as a result of white settlement and later Government policies.
In April 2008 the Full Bench of the Federal Court upheld parts of the appeal by the Western Australian and Commonwealth governments against Justice Wilcox's judgment.
Other native title claims on Noongar lands include:[ citation needed ]
Since the Noongar are largely urbanised or concentrated in major regional towns, studies have shown that the direct economic impact of the Noongar community on the WA economy was estimated to range between five and seven hundred million dollars per year.Exit polls of tourists leaving Western Australia have consistently shown that "lack of contact with indigenous culture" has been their greatest regret. It has been estimated that this results in the loss of many millions of dollars worth of foregone tourist revenue.
As a consequence of the Stolen Generations and problems integrating with modern westernised society, many difficult issues face the present day Noongar. For example, the Noongar Men of the SouthWest gathering in 1996 identified major community problems associated with cultural dispossession such as:
Many of these issues are not unique to the Noongar but in many cases they are unable to receive appropriate government-agency care. The report that was produced after this gathering also stated that Noongar men have a life expectancy of 20 years less than non-Aboriginal men, and go to hospital three times more often.
The Noongar still have large extended families and many families have difficulty accessing available structures of sheltered housing in Western Australia. The Western Australian government has dedicated several areas for the purpose of building communities specifically for the Noongar people, such as the (now closed) Swan Valley Noongar Community.
The Noongar themselves are tackling their own issues, for example, the Noongar Patrol, which is an Aboriginal Advancement Council initiative. It was set up to deter Aboriginal young people from offending behaviour and reduce the likelihood of their contact with the criminal justice system. The patrol uses mediation and negotiation with indigenous youth in an attempt to curb anti-social and offending behaviour of young people who come into the city at night.
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). It is Australia's fourth-most populous city, with a population of 2.1 million living in Greater Perth in 2018. Perth is part of the South West Land Division of Western Australia, with most of the metropolitan area on the Swan Coastal Plain between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Scarp. The city has expanded outward from the original British settlements on the Swan River, upon which the city's central business district and port of Fremantle are situated. Perth city is located on land on which the Whadjuk Nyoongar, the Aboriginal people of the south west of Western Australia, have lived for at least 38,000 years.
Yagan was an Aboriginal Australian warrior from the Noongar people. He played a key part in early resistance to British colonial settlement and rule in the area surrounding what is now Perth, Western Australia. Yagan was pursued by the local authorities after he killed Erin Entwhistle, a servant of farmer Archibald Butler. It was an act of retaliation after Thomas Smedley, another of Butler's servants, shot at a group of Noongar people stealing potatoes and fowls, killing one of them. The government offered a bounty for Yagan's capture, dead or alive, and a young settler, William Keats, shot and killed him. Yagan's execution figures in Australian history as a symbol of the unjust and sometimes brutal treatment of the indigenous peoples of Australia by colonial settlers. He is considered a hero by the Noongar.
Carnac Island is a 19-hectare (47-acre), A Class, island nature reserve about 10 km (6.2 mi) south-west of Fremantle and 3.5 km (2.2 mi) north of Garden Island in Western Australia.
Heirisson Island is an island in the Swan River in Western Australia at the eastern end of Perth Water, between the suburbs of East Perth and Victoria Park. It occupies an area of 285600 m2, and is connected to the two foreshores by The Causeway. The next upstream island is Kuljak Island, then Ron Courtney Island, with no islands in the Swan River downstream between Heirisson Island and the Indian Ocean other than the artificial islet in Elizabeth Quay.
Alas Poor Yagan is an editorial cartoon, drawn by Dean Alston and published in The West Australian newspaper on 6 September 1997. It consists of a panel of eight drawings of Noongar activist Ken Colbung speaking to a group of three Indigenous Australian children. The cartoon's content offended many Australians, and resulted in a complaint of racism to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. The commission eventually ruled that the cartoon made inappropriate references to Noongar beliefs but did not breach the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. This ruling was subsequently upheld on appeal to the Federal Court of Australia.
Midgegooroo was an Aboriginal Australian elder of the Nyungar nation, who played a key role in Aboriginal resistance to white settlement in the area of Perth, Western Australia. Everything documented about Midgegooroo is mediated through the eyes of the colonisers, some of whom, notably G.F. Moore, Robert Menli Lyon and Francis Armstrong, derived their information from discussions with contemporary Noongar people, in particular the son of Midgegooroo, Yagan. Largely due to his exploits in opposing colonisation and his relationship with Lyon and Moore, Yagan has a much sharper historical profile than his father. Midgegooroo was executed by firing squad and without trial under the authority of Lieutenant Governor Frederick Irwin in 1833.
The Wagyl is the Noongar manifestation of the Rainbow Serpent in Australian Aboriginal mythology, from the culture based around the south-west of Western Australia. The Noongar describe the Wagyl as a snakelike Dreaming creature responsible for the creation of the Swan and Canning rivers and other waterways and landforms around present day Perth and the south-west of Western Australia.
Kenneth Desmond Colbung AM MBE, also known by his indigenous name Nundjan Djiridjarkan, was an Aboriginal Australian leader from the Noongar people who became prominent in the 1960s. He was appointed an MBE and an AM for his service to the Aboriginal community.
The Bindjareb, Binjareb, Pindjarup or Pinjareb are an indigenous Noongar people that occupy part of the South West of Western Australia.
Whadjuk, alternatively Witjari, are a Noongar people of the Western Australian region of the Perth bioregion of the Swan Coastal Plain.
Calyute, also known as Kalyute, Galyute or Wongir, was an Indigenous Australian resistance leader who was involved in a number of reprisal attacks with white settlers and members of other tribes in the early days of the Swan River Colony, in Western Australia. He was a member of the Pindjarup people from around the Murray River area south of Perth. Calyute's family included two brothers, Woodan and Yanmar, two wives, Mindup and Yamup, and two sons, Ninia and Monang.
Indigenous Australian seasons are differently classified than the traditional four-season calendar used by most western European peoples. Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander people have distinct ways of dividing the year up. Naming and understanding of seasons differed between groups of Aboriginal peoples, and depending on where in Australia the group lives.
The Koreng, also spelled Goreng, are an indigenous Noongar people of south-west of Western Australia.
The Mooro were a Nyungar Aboriginal clan, a subgroup of the Whadjuk, who lived in and to the north of Perth, Western Australia until shortly after European settlement at the Swan River Colony in 1829. Their territory stretched from the Swan River north to the Moore River beyond the northern limits of metropolitan Perth and east to Ellen Brook. Evidence of indigenous occupation of the Swan Coastal Plain extends back more than 40,000 years.
The history of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Western Australia has been dated as existing for 50-70 thousand years before European contact. This article only deals with documented history from non indigenous sources since European settlement in Perth.
Nyungar is an Australian Aboriginal language or dialect continuum, still spoken by some members of the Noongar community, who live in the southwest corner of Western Australia. The 1996 census recorded 157 speakers; that number increased to 232 by 2006. The rigour of the data collection by the Australian Bureau of Statistics census data has been challenged, with the number of speakers believed to be considerably higher.
This is a timeline of Aboriginal history of Western Australia.
Leonard Michael Collard is a Noongar elder, professor and Australian Research Council chief investigator at the School of Indigenous Studies University of Western Australia.
Della Rae Morrison is an Aboriginal actress, songwriter and activist of the Bibulman Noongar people.
Yued is an region inhabited by the Yued people, one of the fourteen groups of Noongar Aboriginal Australians who have lived in the South West corner of Western Australia for approximately 40,000 years.